Bratislava is Slovakia’s charming castle, seated on the banks of the Danube in close proximity to the densely forested Small Carpathians that are such a treat to nature-lovers. Visitors should start at the Main Square in the Old Town, packed with shops, restaurants, and pubs that stay buzzing late into the night. This area is relatively small, so it’s just a short walk to the famous Blue Church, a cathedral that looks more like a wedding cake than a building, covered in shades of blue inside and out.

This city is a great place to explore castles as well, including the Bratislava Castle, perched on a high hill overlooking the city and the Danube, with views all the way to Hungary on a clear day. Catch the 28 bus up to Devin Castle, with remarkable tower ruins teetering on the tops of rocky outcrops and panoramic views of the Danube and Morava rivers. While you’re in the north of the city, be sure to see the Slavin War Memorial, an enormous pillar built in memory of the 6,000 Soviet soldiers who died pushing the Nazis out of West Slovakia.

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